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Steven Moffat on Humour in Doctor Who: “If You Take the Comedy Away, the Doctor Is Terrifying”

Former showrunner, Steven Moffat, has stressed the importance of comedy in Doctor Who, highlighting that without the levity, the Doctor is an incredibly dark character.

He said:

“I was writing studio sitcoms like Coupling, then Doctor Who came along. Suddenly, people were saying I write serious drama. What are you talking about?

“Even [2007 episode, Blink, which introduced the Weeping Angels] had two sitcom characters with funny names, Sally Sparrow and Kathy Nightingale. Russell [T Davies, current showrunner] writes like that, too. If there’s a page without a joke in it, it feels wrong.

“If you take the comedy away, the Doctor is terrifying. This guy’s running into the middle of every fight he can find and deciding who should win. People get one chance, then he exterminates their species.”

And you can’t really argue with that. There are plenty of funny moments, even in the darkest of stories — Pyramids of Mars, for instance, has that lovely double-step the Doctor and Sarah do together when they walk in and see the mummies; The Face of Evil has “Now drop your weapons, or I’ll kill him with this deadly jelly baby”; The Time Meddler boasts a chair with a panda on it; and that’s without mentioning unlimited rice pudding.

Moffat’s scripts always strike me as particularly witty, full of underrated and overlooked lines as well as dialogue that has you laughing out loud.

But aside from that reason Doctor Who is full of comedic moments, I’d argue that drama in general should be funny, because life is. Awful things happen, but we always find a way to smile, some little joy in the darkness. So if drama represents life, then it should be littered with laughs…

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

Steven Moffat on Humour in Doctor Who: “If You Take the Comedy Away, the Doctor Is Terrifying”

by Philip Bates time to read: 1 min
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